B’Yad Ram-He

B’Hesech HaDa’at, Signs Part 2

In my previous entry, I wrote regarding the physical “sign”, the chatima tova, that occurred throughout my right leg erev rosh hashanah, relating the significance of this experience to the word בשחקים in verse 1 of Sefer HaBahir, which I am currently studying. R’ Aryeh Kaplan, in his commentary on the verse, teaches that בשחקים, traditionally translated as skies, corresponds to the sefirot of Netzach and Hod, pertaining to prophecy and mystical vision, respectively. I correlated the flowing energy of the physical sign to Netzach and prophetic awareness.

Necessarily, given that בשחקים is associated with both Netzach and Hod (justice, justice), I wondered where was evidence of Hod, other than in the capacity “to learn”? Was I – chas v’shalom! – unbalanced?

Well, this morning, as I was resting in my bed before arising, the “mystical vision” of an answer came to me. Suddenly, I “heard” in my mind the reverberating sound like one hears when one strikes the surface of a thin sheet of pliable metal. Immediately following that, the vision came into my mind of a sheet of beaten silver [1] metal. I immediately “knew” that the sound and vision pertained in some manner to Hod, given the reverberating nature of the “sound” in my mind.

In another earlier entry, I had written regarding the word בשחקים:

“in the skies” = “with (laughs of) laughter” = בשחקים

This word from Sefer HaBahir is not from the shoresh shin-chet-kuf שׁחק, meaning “pound to a fine dust”. Rather, it is from the shoresh sin-chet-kuf שׂחק, meaning laughter and overcoming difficulties. They look the same, almost.

Now, it is becoming clearer why I could not relate to the idea that, in Sefer HaBahir, בשחקים referred to the shin-root meaning “pound to a fine dust”, but rather to the sin-root meaning laughter. I am not like “a fine pound dust”. I am more like “pounded metal”.

What is “pound metal” kabbalistically? Dave at Balashon writes regarding asimon:

What’s the origin of the word? Well it originally meant uncoined metal. The first mishna of the fourth chapter of Bava Metzia states that “uncoined metal (אסימון) acquires coined metal (מטבע)”. The gemara (47b) goes on to ask: What IS ASIMON? … According to Klein, the root is the Greek word asemos. A= not, without, and sema = sign, token (as in Hebrew siman and the english semantics.) So while originally the difference between a coin and an asimon was the token had no sign (symbol) at all, it was later used to indicate a token that could not be used as money.

From this, we can see that “pound metal” is metal that has gone from being “without a sign” to being “with a sign”. In other words, it has been transformed from worthless token to redemption money. Bava metzia 47b states:

UNCOINED METAL [ASIMON] ACQUIRES COINED. What IS ASIMON? — Said Rab: Coins that are presented as tokens at the baths. An objection is raised: The second tithe may not be redeemed by asimon, nor by coins that are presented as tokens at the baths; proving that ASIMON is not coins that are presented as tokens at the baths. And should you answer that it is a definition,11 surely the Tanna does not teach thus; [for we learnt:] The second tithe may be redeemed by ‘asimon’, this is R. Dosa’s view. The Sages maintain: It may not. Yet both agree that it may not be redeemed with coins that are presented as tokens at the baths.

Taken together, one could suggest that metal pertains in some manner to “redemption money”. In other words, “unbeaten metal” (one without a sign, a token of uncoined metal, אסימון) is that which cannot fully redeem. On the other hand, “beaten metal” (one with a sign, coined metal like money, מטבע) is that which can fully redeem.

Consequently, my Bahir “learning” (where the ability to learn experientially [2] is a function of Hod) is like beaten-pound metal. It is like “redemption money”, redeeming my nefesh-soul, and capable of initiating redemptive consciousness.This morning’s experience of “sound and sight” (hearing and seeing experientally synthesized into pei [3], expressive learning) was an appropriate “mystical vision” frontside (chazah) of upcoming Yom Kippur.

Moreover, my learning is balanced. Regarding the “beaten silver” symbolism, Yishayahu 46:6, states: “and weigh out silver on the beam [of the balance]”. With respect to verse 1 of Sefer HaBahir, which explicitly mentions the name ר’ נחוניא בן הקנה to whom authorship of Sefer HaBahir is attributed, I can link the word kenah קנה in terms of balance, to the name הקנה HaKana, noting at Balashon, Dave writes:

According to Klein, kaneh קנה has many meanings: stalk, reed, cane, beam of scales, shaft of lampstand, arm of lampstand, length of a reed, and in later Hebrew – windpipe.

One of the interesting meanings is “beam of scales”. In Yechezkel 40:3 we read of וקנה המדה – a “measuring rod” — knei mida has the meaning in modern Hebrew of “criterion” or “scale”.

The “silver beam” is centrally balanced between the right and left “arms” of the scales, like the alef (my chosimah) represents synthesis (Sefer Yetzirah 2:1), the center, the tongue of decree, and the fulcrum of a scale. Importantly, the symbolism here represents the ability to exercise righteous justice (as opposed to exercising unfair-blemished judgment) unswayed by either either pain or pleasure. Seems, Baruch Hashem! my question is answered.


[1] Regarding the symbolism of silver and its relationship to the serpent energy, Dave at Balashon writes: “According to Ibn Ezra and others, serafim is an adjective for the nahashim (snakes). As Rashi explains, they burn שורף – soref – with their venom.” — “The root שרף has a number of related roots … צרף to smelt, to refine, and later to attach, to join and to change money. Klein says that the word literally means ‘to purify by burning.’ From here we get the word tzrif צריף – meaning according to Klein ‘a cone shaped hut’, literally ‘that which is joined together’.” — “Also from צרף we get the English word ‘silver’.”

[2] see Tehiru for the significance of “experiential” redemptive vision

[3] see the hebrew letter “pei” and the “silver”-finger pointer, see silver-finger pointer & Hesech HaDa’at, see yad ramah

[4] see tet ט, choshen mishpat and tikun of the nachash


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